The original title of this post was going to be “Buckminster doesn’t even have a castle,” as a tribute to what it’s been like juggling school, work and transitioning, and my inability to get things crossed off my to-do list since starting testosterone. One of the things that continues to be scrawled at the bottom of my lists everyday, in the not-so-urgent category, is getting my fish, Buckminsterfullerene, a castle. My brother got me this very hip aquaculture fish tank for the holidays, and I thought it’d be fun to get the fish on the day I started testosterone, like a testosterone birthday fish. Maybe there was something I liked about the idea of taking care of an animal that would feed my nurturing side, and I would have a side-kick.
Long story short, the testosterone birthday fish ended up in the freezer within the first 24 hours, Buckminster (and a tank heater) came home with me a few days – and a lot less pressure – later, and this post is on how testosterone has changed the way I experience anger. Anger feels like a track meet. Before testosterone: If something happened that made me angry, I would first give it some thought to make sure that I understood what had happened (checking out the course). I would try to see if I could make excuses for it (the pre-race stretch). Then after I was sure that yes, that wasn’t cool, I’d start to justify my feelings, and admit that yes, I’m upset (warm up run). And then the feeling of being upset would exponentially grow and I’d get angry (the sprint). The mental and physical process of anger was something I’ve learned to have control over (remember this is an organized race, not a run in the woods). I don’t like the feeling of anger, and even more so, I don’t want to be mean, which is why sometime I do literally “run” the anger out, and then of course, begin to cool down.
Then I started testosterone. I started experiencing a lot of mood swings, which was expected, and found myself being more irritable a few days before my next shot. But anger was changing. Out went control and in came feeling. No warmup, no stretching, just straight to the sound of the trigger being pulled. It really feels like going from 0 to 80 in a heartbeat, and the way my body is physically experiencing anger if more full, more intense and more quickly. I’m not feeling more violent, or violent at all. It’s more that the sensation of anger is more visceral, I am overwhelmed with feeling, and I want to fill the room with it. It feels like this comes from more of a need to get the energy out of me than to subject others to my “wrath,” even in these moments I’m usually smiling and laughing at myself as I try to explain to who I’m with what’s happening inside me. It feels ridiculous. The cool is still the same and I’m not angry longer than I was before. Perhaps I’m arguably angry less now because I feel it so much quicker, and then it passes. When I first started talking to people about starting testosterone, one of the frequent concerns was around if my personality would change. My response was that I’d still be me, but that I’d be a happier more confident version of me. It’s on my mind that at some point, these novel experiences of emotions I’m encountering will either go away or become less novel, and part of who I am.